DHS' Customs & Border Protection Division Unveils Fact Sheet on Securing Borders

On May 5, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a fact sheet detailing its use of technologies in the protection of borders and port entries. The fact sheet (published below) details such implemented technologies as radiation isotope identification, video surveillance, gamma and X-ray systems, and more. The fact sheet, though not overly detailed, provides a snapshot view of what's being rolled out currently along the U.S. borders, ports and airports.


Fact Sheet: CBP Securing Our Borders Inspection and Surveillance Technologies

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) uses multiple strategies and employs the latest in technology to accomplish its goals of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while also facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Officers and agents use various technologies in different combinations to dramatically strengthen our ability to detect terrorist weapons.

CBP's detection, inspection and surveillance tools range from sophisticated analytical computer data bases to gamma-ray and X-ray imaging systems, radiation isotope identifiers, explosive detectors, and sensors and cameras located along isolated stretches of border.

CBP employs a wide array of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) technology to serve as a force multiplier and to complement the work of CBP officers, canine enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents in guarding America from terrorism. These technologies serve a vital function in day-to-day inspection and movement of tens of thousand of passengers, pedestrians, vehicles, trucks, cargo containers and baggage, at our borders and ports of entry.

Technology at the official entry points:

Technologies deployed to our nation's land, sea, and airports of entry include large-scale X-ray and gamma-imaging systems. CBP has also deployed radiation detection technology including personal radiation detectors (PRDs), radiation isotope identifiers, and radiation portal monitors.

Technology between ports of entry:

CBP is securing the areas between ports of entry by implementing a comprehensive border enforcement strategy, expanding, integrating, and coordinating the use of technology and communications including Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS), and Geographic Information System (GIS).

Air and marine assets:

CBP also has an Air and Marine Operations Center in Riverside, CA (AMOC) with extensive surveillance and database capabilities. AMOC is providing the radar and communications piece of CBP's airspace security system in place over Washington, D.C. and has provided this same extensive radar surveillance capability for a number of significant events, including the Olympics and Super Bowl. Air assets include UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, Astar helicopters, as well as C-210, C-12, and long-range P-3 Orion fixed-wing aircraft. The marine fleet includes 39-foot interceptor vessels, 33-foot SAFE boats, various utility craft, and large ocean-going support and radar platform vessels.

CBP information, inspection and surveillance technologies include:

Automated Targeting System (ATS): enables CBP to collect and analyze cargo shipping data, to distinguish and select high-risk shipments for further review and examination. CBP uses the data collected through legislative and regulatory actions to identify cargo that could pose a potential risk, prior to their arrival.

Radiation Portal Monitor: a detection device that provides CBP with a passive, non-intrusive means to screen trucks, cargo containers, rail cars, passenger vehicles, and other conveyances for radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. There are more than 473 installed nationwide with plans for continued expansion.

Personal Radiation Detector: a small, but highly sensitive, device carried by CBP officers at ports of entry and CBP Border Patrol agents at highway checkpoints. It will sound an alarm if radiation is detected during an inspection or enforcement operation. More than 10,500 are carried by CBP officers and agents nationwide.

Radiation Isotope Identifiers: a hand-held instrument capable of detecting gamma and neutron emissions from radioactive sources, including nuclear, medical and industrial isotopes. CBP officers use this device to determine the exact identity of a radioactive source causing an alarm. More than 500 are in use with more on order.

Large-scale Gamma-ray/X-ray Imaging Systems: produce transmission and reflected images of the contents of a cargo container, rail car, vehicle or trailer-truck. CBP officers analyze these images to determine where there are anomalies associated with the cargo listed on the manifest. There are 166 systems in use, with more to be added.

The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System: provides rapid identification of individuals with outstanding criminal warrants by electronically comparing a live-scanned fingerprint against a database of previously captured prints. IAFIS is deployed to all 142 Border Patrol stations and more than 150 ports of entry. From September 2004 through the end of April 2005, CBP Border Patrol agents have arrested 297 homicide suspects, 110 kidnapping suspects, 448 sexual assault suspects, 674 robbery suspects, 4,128 suspects for assaults of other types, and 8,224 suspects involved with dangerous narcotics as a direct result of IAFIS.

Itemizer: a trace particle detection capable of identifying both explosives and narcotics.

Portable Contraband Detector 'Buster': can locate density anomalies concealed inside tires, dashboards, fenders, cargo container doors and walls, and other types of homogeneous, opaque surfaces/objects.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): used in conjunction with ground-based sensors, UAVs can fly to areas of sensor activity, spot the cause of the activation, and maintain surveillance. It can also operate independently using programmed flight plans, or under the control of UAV mission specialists, using on board sensors to detect and track border intrusions by vehicles and personnel. The UAV is capable of performing high endurance missions that can last far longer than typical manned aircraft flights, and allow more efficient use of available apprehension forces.

Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System (ISIS): consist of the Remote Video Surveillance (RVS) camera systems, sensors, and the Integrated Computer Assisted Detection (ICAD) database. ISIS serves to detect intrusion, aid in agent dispatching, and estimating attempts of illegal entry.

Geographic Information System (GIS): a mapping program that depict developing trends or patterns regarding areas of rescues or deaths. It provides CBP Border Patrol agents with the ability to pre-stage emergent response resources.

These detection, inspection and surveillance tools are only a portion of the technology that CBP uses on a daily basis to accomplish its mission of protecting America. In addition, CBP is continually searching for new and improved technologies such as the America's Shield Initiative or the Advanced Passenger Information System and many others to further ensure safety and security against terrorism.